Karaiya’s Signature Fish – a rendition of Hunan 剁椒鱼头 (Double Pepper Fish Head)
Double Pepper Fish Head is a traditional Hunan dish, where a gigantic fish head is covered in spicy peppers and, according to Alan Wong, owner of Karaiya, “simmered in special Camellia oil [aka tea seed oil] collected from trees.” At Karaiya, they use a whole fish instead, which I strongly prefer because it does not have as much of the goopy stuff fish heads have. This fish is tantalizingly addicting. The yellow peppers on one side and red on the other is steeped in a hot oil, which helps to create this extremely tasty sauce. You can then buy a plate of noodles to throw into the sauce. Something about hot searing oil and noodles… you can never go wrong.
Even with the noodles, I still always need to gorge myself with their delicious bamboo steamed rice to temper the heat from the fish.
This is one of those must-hit restaurants every time I go back home.